I’ll begin with an understatement: it’s helpful to glance at the position requirements. These are the positions drafted some standard, common leagues. In fact, these are the exact positions drafted in a recent expert mock I participated in:
Hitters: C, C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, MI, CI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, UTIL
Pitchers: SP, SP, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, Bench x5.
A 12-team draft with the above positional requirements brings up some interesting big-picture fantasy baseball draft strategy and I think it would make us better fantasy baseball players by taking a quick look at it.
In this draft you are looking at 14 position players drafted, including 2 catchers (gasp!), and you would imagine a bench spot or two would go toward hitters. This is versus just 7 pitchers, plus the remaining bench slots. So how does this mock fantasy baseball lineup overlay to the actual player penetration (Editor’s Note: No jokes!) among actual major league clubs? Break out your slide rule, because we’re going to do some math.
Last year the 30 major league teams carried 380 hitters on their rosters. Our mock draft has 12 teams each drafting 16 hitters (14 positions, plus est. 2 bench).
So our draft will penetrate (Editor’s Note: Again, no jokes.) just about half of the hitters in the league. This doesn’t factor in positional scarcity. Take catcher, for example, where our mock draft will see 24 catchers fly off the board, which is 80% of major league starters. Yikes.
Last year major league teams carried 370 pitchers on their rosters. Our mock draft has 12 teams each drafting 10 pitchers (7 positions, plus est. 3 bench).
So we’re only penetrating (Editor’s Note: Still no jokes.) 32.4% of the major league pitching pool.
Interestingly, the pitching positions are designated starter and reliever. The two RP slots represent 80% of the league’s closers, meaning that drafting big-save closers will be imperative, while several #3 starters will actually go undrafted.
What’s the takeaway? Let’s break it down point by point:
- Do a little math on the back of a napkin that takes into account your specific league settings and how deeply your league penetrates (Can’t take it any more…THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!!! Editors Note: And there it is.) the actual major league player pool. This is significant and has repercussions in terms of how you approach the draft.
- For this particular league, you need to draft a catcher a round or two before you’d typical take him. The 23rd or 24th catcher taken in this mock draft will be an absolute scrub with minimal at bats, but you should be able to scrounge up an outfielder with superior production later in the draft.
- Likewise, you’ll want to draft your closers a couple rounds early, and fit the “don’t pay for saves” mentality that has been beaten into fantasy baseball players. In this particular draft, the limits imposed by the two RP slots means you won’t be able to draft 3 closers late and spread their saves across three slots. Get two high-saves guys that are reliable (as reliable as a closer can be!) and from wining teams.
- Wait, wait, wait on pitching. There will be valuable starters available late and you’ll want to use the first several rounds of this draft to fill those hitting slots.
These are suggestions based upon this particular league, so you’ll want to do this simple research for each roster you draft.
Count the number of roster slots, do some quick math, and determine some objective numbers for positional scarcity. Then adjust your draft strategy slightly to address that reality.
Even though this may seem elementary, you’ll be surprised at how many fantasy baseball owners don’t know their league’s roster settings, nor will they adjust to them in the draft. If you do, you’ll have an edge.